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Menexenus - Plato [Yet More Socrates]

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by Plato (see Appendix I)

Translated by Benjamin Jowett


It seems impossible to separate by any exact line the genuine writings of
Plato from the spurious.  The only external evidence to them which is of
much value is that of Aristotle; for the Alexandrian catalogues of a
century later include manifest forgeries.  Even the value of the
Aristotelian authority is a good deal impaired by the uncertainty
concerning the date and authorship of the writings which are ascribed to
him.  And several of the citations of Aristotle omit the name of Plato, and
some of them omit the name of the dialogue from which they are taken. 
Prior, however, to the enquiry about the writings of a particular author,
general considerations which equally affect all evidence to the genuineness
of ancient writings are the following:  Shorter works are more likely to
have been forged, or to have received an erroneous designation, than longer
ones; and some kinds of composition, such as epistles or panegyrical
orations, are more liable to suspicion than others; those, again, which
have a taste of sophistry in them, or the ring of a later age, or the
slighter character of a rhetorical exercise, or in which a motive or some
affinity to spurious writings can be detected, or which seem to have
originated in a name or statement really occurring in some classical
author, are also of doubtful credit; while there is no instance of any
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